Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dear Papa

Dear Papa

It is New Year's Eve, 2011.  This year has come and it has gone.  We only have a few hours left of the year.  Next year will bring new challenges.  The Mayan Calendar will end and many around the world will be convinced that it is the year of the Apocalypse.  This past year has brought a few claims to the headlines of the end of the world.  There are people out there that figure they know when Jesus is coming back.  Even through He made it pretty clear that You were the only one who knows that.  I don't get why it is so important to know what tomorrow will bring us.  I only wish we would have the courage to live today.

I am writing a letter to you and posting it on my blog.  That seems kind of weird.  I have to admit that I am editing a few thoughts as I write this.  Life for me has changed dramatically in the last couple of years and I don't know if my communication with You has improved as a result of the changes.  I wanted my life to be less of a religious point of view and more of a picture of relationship. I don't know if I am becoming that picture yet.  Relationship takes communication and I am challenged in that department.  Marriage has been a good training ground in the communication department.  I realize how important communication is in the relationship I have with my husband.  I get that now.  Communication with You was a program to follow, a liturgy to recite, a well planned script. I don't have a script for communication with my husband, and through that, I am learning that script isn't the way to communicate with my Father.  Even though that is how it was modelled for me.

When Jesus walked the Earth, his disciples saw Him in relationship with You.  They didn't see a program, they saw a Son that talked with his Papa.  They wanted that reality, too.

"Teach us to pray!"

Make it real for us too.

A student will only ask for a lesson when they see the experience lived out in the teacher.  Only then will they ask to be taught.  When they are hungry for what they see in their guide, only then will they be willing to be taught.  I wonder what it must have looked like for them.  Jesus was different than the promoters of religion in their neighbourhood.  Jesus didn't need a go between.  He had the real thing.  RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS ABBA, HIS FATHER, HIS PAPA.

Papa, Jesus opened that door for me.  Jesus gave me access to a relationship with You.  That is huge.  A Father who loves me, A Father who isn't disappointed in me, A Father who is proud of me.  A real Papa.

I am not the only one who wants a Papa like that.  There so many who need a Papa that loves them.  So many don't know that there is a Father that knows them so intimately that there is no room for disappointment.  So many lack in their earthly dads what You are lovingly ready to give us.

I still have a lot of questions that any child would have.   If I could picture You, I would picture a big arm chair and You would be sitting there waiting for me to come running into Your lap.  I would climb up into Your lap and You would hold me close, You would wrap me in a cozy blanket to keep me warm and speak to me something like...

"Okay, Ruby... I know you have lots on your mind and lots on your list of things to do, people to see and places to go.  I am glad you are here with Me.  I love you, Ruby.  Always have, Always will.  You are safe here.  I am always here.  Even in the business of your day, I am still here and this is a place you can always come to.  Day or night.  You can sit here and tell me anything.  I will always listen.  And I will share with you My thoughts as well.  I love you, Ruby"

That is what this moment is like.  Me in your lap, trying to get as close to You as I can.  Feeling the warmth of Your arms around me.

Tomorrow is a new day and a new year.

Thank you, Papa.  My hubby and I are going to watch the fireworks now.  I know You will be watching them too.  They are really good.

Your daughter, Ruby.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Letting Go?

"Sometimes the best way to find what you’re looking for is to let go of what you already have."

U2 live from Milan, Italy... singing "I still haven't found what I'm looking for."

Over two years ago, I let go of something huge .  But as I look back over the course of my life and wonder if I made the right decision... I again listen to the lyrics of this song by U2.

Am I still running.  Running from something or running to something?

It has been a challenging time since, trying to figure out if what I am finding in this journey is what I have been looking for... for a good portion of my life. 

"Jesus, are you more real to me know?"

It has been over two years, almost three that I stopped the search within the walls of the organizational system of what I used to call "church".  I left my commitments and stopped it all together, now committing to nothing else but my family, my employment and my relationships that are found within my day to day life. 

It is Sunday morning.  I often have these moments on Sunday mornings when I relax on the couch and listen to the hum of my computer.  They sun is coming up, my hubby is still sleeping.  I wonder how many people really know I left.  I moved, but in reality, it became an opportunity to let go. 

So much of my journey was looking in one door or another for a fulfilling life.  Each door was different.  Coloured differently, designed differently, and when I opened it up, the sounds that came from within were different.  Each door I went through, I found a part of that life.  I found people.  The people were different, but that was okay.  I bonded with some and then left to find another door.  I look back and wonder at my motivation.  What was I looking for?  Was it just a new and fresh way to express my spiritual passion? 

I have no regrets.  I have found treasures in every door I went through.  Those treasures are the people that I embraced as friend and those that embraced me as friend.

What does each day hold for me now?  How do I live this life? 

Have I found what I am looking for now?  This is the journey. 

Every day my Father is giving me fresh air to breathe, new challenges to face and people to love.  And I am content.  Content to know how much I am loved.   Loved so much that I can love so much.

"Jesus, thank you for every step of this journey.  You have walked with me and continue to walk with me.  You have loved me and continue to love me.

Thank you!"

Saturday, September 10, 2011


(I am posting a letter I shared with Wayne Jacobson ; God Journey podcaster and author... on the morning of September 10, 2011.  I have also posted this  link...

God Journey Podcast: Not answering for God. July 15, 2011

to the podcast I was listening to at the time of writing this letter.)

I woke up this morning with this thought in my head. 


It is September 10th.  Tomorrow it will be ten years since the collapse of the World Trade Centre.  My husband and I have been overdosing on 9-11 documentaries.  We have heard testimony from the families that lost loved ones that day; we heard interviews with George Bush, Condy Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Rudy Guliani; we listened to story after story.  The documentary that challenged me the most was two hours of investigating faith through this experience.  What did people believe in light of 9-11?  How was their faith affected by the events of that day?  It was gut wrenching to hear how much God was blamed for what happened in New York, Washington and in a farmer's field in Pennsylvania. 

I am listening to the podcast "Not answering for God"  I have been so behind in my podcast listening due to a dead Ipod.  This morning I felt like I wanted to hear something.  Didn't know that the one that I would tune into would address the same thoughts in my head. 

So many authors have written books trying to help people through the tough times and their faith.  People need answers to the ultimate question... "Where is God when it hurts" 


... was your answer, Wayne.

How profound. Wisdom gets a person to that place where the answers aren't a die hard need.  I wonder if people in this world believe that God owes them a peaceful and pain free life.  When that life isn't experienced... God gets the blame for it. 


That is my question back to people.  There are stories of amazing rescues on 9-11 and there is the reality that there were those who hung out their window with absolutely no hope of rescue.  And people wonder where God was. 

There are no answers and the more we look for them, the more we will get disappointed with God. 
My thought and answer to that question... I don't think God owes me at all.  You mentioned Job and his experience and the conclusion at the end of the book.  God didn't answer Job's questions any better than he answers ours today.  I think God knows something that most of us have yet to figure out. 


God doesn't owe us anything... especially an explanation. 
What makes life beautiful is not getting what we deserve... but getting what we don't deserve. 


That has made my life beautiful in the midst of a life that has unanswered questions and unexplainable circumstances.  It is what God has given me , BECAUSE He doesn't owe me, that has made my life beautiful.

I guess there is no question.  Sorry to bait you with one.  Makes it a rhetorical one then.  
Thank you again.  Still enjoying the conversation. 

Ruby Neumann
Edmonton, Alberta

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Transition and the Journey 9 - Prayer

 I: After a few months hiatus from writing, I am back.  I have sat down many a time with the intent to write some more, but in those moments, nothing comes out.  It is like trying to get a sweat pea to bloom before its time.  Today I am contemplating the whole subject of prayer. I know I wrote about this subject in the blog on Unorthodox communication... but I still want to pick at it.  Maybe I will uncover more... or just repeat what I wrote in the other blog.   I will turn the conversation over now to Me and Myself. 

Me:  Good morning.

Myself:  To you too.  How are you enjoying the holidays?

Me:  We aren't getting much accomplished with all the rain.  But I am trying not to feel bad in the process.

Myself:  July Showers bring what...?

Me:  More mosquitoes. 

Myself:  Makes it fun to pick strawberries when the skeeters have made their home in the patch. 

Me:  Do you think we should pray for sunshine?

Myself:  Guess we don't need to pray for rain.

Me:  Maybe we have the rain because someone was praying for it.

Myself:  And they forgot to quit. 

Me:  I don't think anyone would forget to quit praying.  Some forget to pray... But to quit?

Myself:  Can I ask you something?

Me:  Sure, go ahead.

Myself:  With everything that has happened in the last two years... are you still praying?

Me:  Define "praying"  and I will let you know if I am still doing it.

Myself: Communicating with God.  What else is there?

Me:  Let's just say, the communication method has changed. 

Myself:  What has changed?

Me: I don't bow my head and close my eyes anymore.  At least now when I am really having a one on one with my Papa.  There is still that respect clause when I am around other people that pray that way.  But that seems fake to me...

Myself:  Respect isn't such a bad thing,  I think we need to do that for others who aren't on the same path as we are.  We are on a different sort of journey than most.  It is good to remember that it isn't a crime to be different.  God wants us to be real with Him and to let others be real with Him in their own way. 

Me: So it could be okay to bow my head and close my eyes if it is helping someone else be real in that moment. 

Myself: That is respect. 

Me:  Let's change gears.  Let me ask you something now.  How do you respond when someone asks you to pray.? Is that automatic still, or do you process things differently?

Myself: Honestly,  I wonder how to go about that now.  It used to be automatic.  "Sure, I will pray for you!"  It was my Christian duty to pray for people.  Now... I want to ditch the duty part of the program.  I don't know how to do it anymore.  People are still asking me to pray for them and I don't know how to do that.  It used to be a program that I followed.  Now, like you said, praying is laying in my bed and whispering my thoughts to Papa. 

Me:  I find it hard to ask anymore.

Myself:  How so?

Me:  I find it hard to hand over my daily shopping list to God and expect him to fill it... or at least give me a good reason for not filling it. 

Myself: I know what you mean.  I wonder what percentage of the average Christian's  prayer life is taken up by asking God to fix this, and provide for that, and be with so and so ...

Me:  I'll take a wild guess and say at least 85%..

Myself:  If not more.

Me:  Maybe that is why it is hard to pray for someone.  That usually means asking God for something... even if it for someone else.

Myself:  I have been trying something different.  When I have someone on my mind, I just bring that person into my conversation with Papa.  I find I'm not asking for anything but acknowledging what God has already given.  Understanding that the person is right in the middle of God's hand.  Knowing that is comforting and I don't really need to do much asking. 

Me:  What about those times in Scripture where Jesus says... "Ask".

Myself:  I am not saying that asking is a bad thing... I just don't know how do to it right now without an agenda.  I want a break from asking.  I already know that Papa has me in the centre of his hand.  I just want to lay there and know that I am being taken care of. 

Me:  There are too many rules when it comes to prayer.

Myself:  Bowing your head and closing your eyes?

Me: Not just that.  Rules, methods, programs, liturgy...

Myself:  Liturgy... there's something we can talk about.  What are your thoughts on liturgy. 

Me:  I still have it in my head.  Imprinted on my mind from my childhood. 

Myself:  Do I detect bitterness?

Me:  Not really bitterness.  Just regret.

Myself:  Regret? 

Me:  Regret that it wasn't more personal back then. 

Myself:  Some would argue of the truth embedded in the liturgy... the scripture that is memorized...

Me:  I guess that is okay for some.  I don't find myself memorizing my conversation with my husband... why would I want to memorize my conversation with God.

Myself:  Let's go back to the rules.  What about praying before you eat.  That may be more of an expectation than a rule. 

Me:  I kind of ride the fence on this one.  When I am at home, eating isn't really a sit down affair.  We just load up our plates and sit down in front of the TV.  So then... no... I don't start dinner with prayer. 

Myself:  Is there a time when you do like to pray before a meal?

Me:  I kind of like it when I go out to eat with friends or when I have family over.  If prayer is important to them, then I am okay with it.  It does give me a camaraderie feeling with my Jesus friends.  It is personal, most of the time. 

Myself:  So prayer is two things.  One, is your alone time with Papa... Your one-on-one conversation, dialogue, relationship with God.  And then number two... The community ritual. 

Me:  Community ritual?  That sounds kind of cold.

Myself:  Is it? 

Me: Sometimes it can be.  But like I said before... respect.

Myself:  What about singing?  That happens a lot when you are with your family.

Me:  I like the singing.  It doesn't seem so ritualistic, more artistic.  It is something special. 

Myself: We could go on forever on this topic.  So many people have.  There are so many books written on prayer.  Heh!... books on prayer.  Do any come to mind that you read, ones that you liked or got something out of?

Me:  I have read a couple of the Stormie Omartian books.  Don't remember much... that was a while ago.  I think I have read a few in my time.  I have also read books on communicating in marriage... and I realize that is a skill only learned with practical experience.

Myself:  So all those books on marriage communication and prayer are a useless sacrifice of trees?

Me:  Not really a waste... they are tools and suggestions for improving communication... just not the answer to the problem and not the easy way out.  Some people are looking for the perfect program when it comes to prayer. I don't think there is one.  Prayer is relationship, not a program.  I don't have a program when it comes to talking and sharing my joys and sorrows with my hubby.  I just have to do it.  I have to make time to communicate.  Same goes for my relationship with God.

Jesus is the best example of that.  His prayers were between him and his Papa.  They weren't scripted or programmed... but he had to remove himself from the crowds and make time away from the busyness of life.

Myself:  We have a supper date tonight.  Do you think there is more to talk about on this subject?

Me:  Not sure... considering that we are not on a program with this conversation.  Maybe we should just wait for the next time we chat and maybe we will have something else to chat about.

Myself:  Whatever works.

Me:  I hear it is quesadillas tonight.

Myself:  Yee Haw.  Prayer will be a good thing then.   My stomach doesn't like cheese.

Me:  Mine either.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Transition and the Journey 8 - Good Friday to Easter Monday... Journey thoughts


I:  I am reclining on the couch.  Hubby is sleeping.  The cat is sleeping.  I am not sleeping.  It is Good Friday morning.  I want to chat about this.  Good Friday.  What is it?   Why is it?  Is it really necessary?   A lot of questions and I don't know where to take this topic.  I guess I have to turn it over to my two counterparts for dissecting.  They are much better at it than I. 

Me:  Questions, questions... Boy, you loaded us up with a lot of questions.  Do you have nothing better to do on your day off than ask questions? 

Myself:  Maybe I has better things to do... That would be why we are taking over the discussion. 

Me:  Okay.  Where do we start?

Myself:  Good Friday.

Me:  I have a few ideas as to where we can take this conversation.

Myself:  Go ahead.

Me:  Are you aware that Jesus is the only historical figure who has his death commemorated every year but he isn't even dead?  Every year we have a funeral service for Jesus.  Why is that?

Myself:  I used to have answers to that question.  Let's see if we can come up with some answers.  I don't think people set out to stage funerals, they want to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for them.  That can't be so bad.

Me: I guess that is an honourable enough reason.  But do you remember some of the funeral services we have been to in our time.  "God Forbid" you should show any enthusiasm in the church.   

Myself:  I don't know if it is God that forbids the enthusiasm.

Me:  You know what I mean. 

Myself:  We have had some pretty memorable Good Fridays.  Remember New Orleans?

Me: Seven preachers, a three hour service and a community of enthusiastic Southern Baptists... how can I forget that one?

Myself: What about the movie date on Good Friday in Saskatoon to see Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ"?

Me:  That was painful.

Myself:  I am thankful we watched once before so we knew what was coming.

Me:  The first time I put my brain in director mode.  In removing myself from the emotion of the content, it was easier to get through the movie the first time.  The second time in Saskatoon, it was Good Friday and I gave myself permission to let the emotion in.  I knew what was coming in the way of content.  What I wasn't prepared for was the hit on my heart.  I had seen a lot of passion plays and Jesus movies in my time, but this one really dug in deep. 

Myself:  What about yesterday?  Will yesterday go down in the memory banks?

Me:  Hubby and I went shopping for a washing machine. 

Myself:  Times have changed. 

Me:  I was driving home last night after a late lunch with the girls. It was almost midnight and a couple songs in the iPod resonated a theme...  "Beautiful".  I whispered a thank you to Jesus.

Myself: So something about Good Friday still resonates with you?

Me:  Even though I don't like to attend the Jesus funerals anymore, I am still thankful. Calvary was an ugly picture to look at,  but a beautiful portrait of redemption.  I just hope we remember that more than one day out of the  year. 

Myself:  Thanks for letting me ask the questions today.  Usually it is you.

Me:  You're welcome. 

I:  It is Saturday morning.  Same scenario.  I am out in the living room.   Hubby is sleeping  and so is the cat.  Today is Saturday... That in between day.  The day that no one celebrates; the day that is missed in the Easter Story.  It is business as usual on Saturday.  I have one question I would like to put forward to Me and Myself.  In the midst of our remembering...  Why don't we remember Saturday.  I would think it was a day in history that was almost as painful as Friday.  It was the day after.  The "What Now" day.  After the shock of the crucifixion sets in, then came Saturday.  What now?  What do we do now?  All of our dreams are dashed against a Roman cross.  Think about it folks.  Easter Sunday hadn't happened yet.  These were the folks at the real funeral.  Not just the religious replays. 

Me: What now?

Myself:  That would be the question.

Me:  Saturday does seem uneventful.  Like there isn't much to chew through. 

Myself:  Do you want to chat or do housework?  We still need to clean the bathroom. 

Me:  Do you ever wonder what it was like?

Myself: What what was like?

Me:  The day in between... the down time between the crucifixion and the resurrection.  How do you imagine that space in time for the followers of Jesus. 

Myself: Mmmm... I don't like the in between time.  The time after everything falls apart and before I discover that I can live again.  I haven't learned how to maneuver my boat on those waters very well. 

Me:  Are we there right now?

Myself:  Some days it feels like we are.

Me:  Tomorrow is Sunday.  Easter Sunday.

Myself:  I know.  We are scheduled to go to church tomorrow.

Me:  We haven't gone to church in over a year.

Myself:  I know.

Me: You want to talk about it?

Myself:  I am kind of scared.

Me:  Me too.  Why is that?

Myself:  It is hard to define the fear.  I don't think I belong there anymore. 

Me:  In church?

Myself: It's not just the building.  It is the culture. I don't fit in.

Me: Do you want to fit in?

Myself:  I just don't know right now.


I: It is Easter Sunday morning.  I am on the couch with my computer.  Hubby is not sleeping.  The cat is.  Both are laying down in the living room beside me watching Holmes Inspection.  It is Easter.  I am going for a drive today... to church.  The reason.  The choir is playing a song that I wrote with my sister.  And I am going to see a friend.  And I am going to see my mom and the rest of my family.  It is Easter... they will be at church.  That should be a good enough reason to go.  Other than that.  I will sit and listen to what is being said about today.  Maybe I can take away some wisdom. 

Me: We don't have long to chat

Myself:  We have to shower, get dressed, drive for an hour and make it to church before they play our song. 

Me:  "Shout Praises"  I remember when Jennifer and I wrote that song.  It was on the way back from a funeral we attended with Mom in Saskatchewan.  My cousin, Yvonne, had lost her husband to a brain aneurysm only days after their first child, a daughter, was born. 

Myself:  "Shout Praises, Shout Praises, Shout Praises to the Lord.  For He is good to us, He is good to us... and His love never fails."

Me:  I still like those words.  HIS LOVE NEVER FAILS!!!!  That said with much enthusiasm.  

Myself:  That is something worth celebrating today. 

Me:  Yes, I would say so. 

Myself:  Are we going to film this?

Me:  If you don't forget the camera?

Myself:  Okay.  We better get ready.

Me:  Shower time!!!!

Myself:  We can conclude our Easter thoughts when we come home.

Me:  Alright. 
I:  Please hold on for the continuation. We'll be back!!!


Me:  Well, what is the conclusion?

Myself:  I don't want to go to church anymore.

Me:  That bad?

Myself:  Not really bad, just decided I don't want to go. 

Me:  Do you want to elaborate?

Myself:  Can I be upfront without offending people?

Me:  That is risk you have to take.  I figure you will offend someone eventually. 

Myself: Church isn't for everyone.  There are Jesus followers in this world that don't do church.  

Me:  You would have a hard time convincing some on that.

Myself:  Do I have to convince everyone?

Me:  That won't happen.

Myself:  I think I ruined my appreciation of the game by playing in way too many ball parks.

Me: Interesting analogy.  Don't you have to be in a ball  park to play baseball?

Myself:  I could play in my back yard.  Then I wouldn't have to pay rent to use the field.

Me:  Playing in a ballpark, you have to abide by the rules of the park owners.

Myself:  Tell me something.  Will it ever be okay to be different?

Me:  Jesus was different.   I guess it wouldn't be so bad. 

Myself: I don't want to go to church anymore...

Me: Okay. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sister Wives: What I respect and what inspires me about this polygamist family's life.

I find that blogging my thoughts is the backup to my discussions in real life.  Often times I have a discourse with a person and because I am not that prepared to explain myself, my thoughts and reasoning don't get across as I would like them to .  This next post is such a blog...

There is a reality television show that just started into its second season.  Sister wives has caught my attention.  It is aired on TLC Sunday night.  For those of you who haven't seen the show, I will give you a brief synopsis. 

Sister wives features the life of a fundamentalist Mormon family in Utah.

Kody Brown is the husband of four wives and the dad to sixteen children.  Three of his wives: Meri, Janelle and Christine have lived with him for 15-20 years.  Robyn just joined the family with her children last year.  Sister wives, like most reality TV shows brings cameras into their day to day lives. 

Kody is only legally married to his first wife Meri.  They were married in a civil union, where as his other "wives" were only married to him in a religious ceremony, not legally binding by the state of Utah.  They all live in on house split into three apartments:  one apartment for Meri, Janelle and Christine.  Robyn, the fourth addition to the family, lives in a house down the street for now. All women have their own private living quarters, but they share the family responsibilities and operate much like a whole more than a divided unit.

Before you continue with the blog... read this article that was published by the Karney Law Firm in October of 2010. 

"Sister Wives: Will reality show stars face prosecution for polygamy in Utah"

Polygamy was outlawed in the late 19th century across America.  Due to the immense persecution, the LDS church changed their doctrine, not allowing polygamy.  As a result, the persecution stopped and Utah was admitted into the American union as a state.  This seems all well and good to most people, but there were factions of the LDS church that wanted to maintain their fundamental beliefs.  To this day, (known as the Fundamental Latter Day Saints - FLDS ) there are many that still practice polygamy. 

Most don't realize the significance of doctrinal change.  Mormons belief in polygamy was not something established to create chaos while they lived on Earth.  It was to required because of their religious belief that they would continue their celestial marriages in the after life, after they have become gods and goddesses, and populate their own planet with spirit children. This is a fact that not many Mormons will fess up to right away.  This required them to start their journey to their celestial purpose with large families on earth.  In the late 1800's, because of the persecution, the LDS church was "forced" to change a very significant doctrine to "maintain the peace" and keep themselves from imprisonment. 

There is the overview.  I want to explain what I find so fascinating and inspirational about the Brown's story. 

1. They have chosen in the midst of persecution to stick to their beliefs.  For this, I have a great deal of  respect for them.

Okay... isn't this reminiscent of the early Christians.  They had their convictions and the state they lived in didn't condone their belief systems and opted to persecute them to death.  Many died because they wouldn't give up their faith.  Even today in many parts of the world, there are people who must endure inhumane torture because their faith and faith practices are illegal.  Daniel was thrown into the Lion's den for praying.  He knew that praying had it's consequence.  Yet he still prayed. 

I don't have much respect for the Mormon  belief system.  After researching their doctrine, I found that over the course of time, it changed often and significantly.  There seemed to be new revelations emerging every time they faced opposition from government or people.  Nothing seemed to be sacred. 

What I do respect is when I see people sticking to what they believe even when it will land them in prison and remove them from their family.  I am sure that is what I was taught about the fundamental belief system of Christianity. 

2.  There is a team mentality among the four women. I have respect for this. 

There are four women and sixteen children.  I am amazed at how little jealousy their is.  There is some and at times it creeps into the conversations. Especially since Robin came on board.  It was a tough adjustment for the other three women who had lived together for 16 years.  Still they embraced her like a sister coming into the family.  These women are best friends.  They value of each other in a way I can't understand .  I think that is why I watch the show.  It is not because of Kody and what he contributes to the mix.  I am enamoured by these women and the relationship they have for each other.  

 I am possessive of my husband's affections, and I am the only woman in his life.  I couldn't bear to imagine sharing him with another woman.  These women have the same emotions and feelings as I do. I wonder at times how they share their husband and live at peace with that decision. Then I realized something.  I am not so unlike them.  I have to share my husband with his work and with his music and with his other friends.  I must be at peace with that as well.  I have learned the value of my female friends and my family and work to maintain the closeness of those relationships.  It was easier to do as a single woman.  Now that I am married, I want to be with my husband.  But he is one man and has many responsibilities.  I am not the only woman that would understand this picture.   

3.  I respect their openness.  I respect their willingness to invite the world into their homes at great risk to that home.

I like watching some reality TV.  I enjoy Extreme Home Makeover, Dragon's Den and Fear Factor.  I watched American Idol, Trading Spaces and Survivor when I lived in Calgary with my former roommate.  I followed Miami Ink when it was running.  I don't have any tattoos, but the show and it's stories interested me. I have peeked in at other shows and enjoyed the banter that goes on.  My hubby likes watching Mike Holmes, Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Stars.  All these shows don't have much in common. Maybe an overwhelming percentage of the people on reality TV are in it for the exposure.  It seems that a quite a few "out of the limelight" superstars are inviting people into their homes as an attempt to gain some exposure for their fading careers. Gene Simmons, Tanya Tucker and David Hasselhoff  have all had the cameras in their homes.

Sister Wives is the first show that I have watched that poses a legal risk to the people on the show.  I wonder if the stars of Little People, Big World would be so eager to expose themselves on national television if there was a risk of persecution for being short.  I highly doubt there is.  Over and over, the five main characters have expressed that it is better to be open about who they are than to remain in hiding.  Hiding would do more damage to the identity of their children in the long run, than the risk of prosecution and imprisonment. 

Wow!  Most of us have been raised in a culture that encouraged us to hide our identity, if it didn't meet the approval of others around us.  There are many issues that have attached stigmas to them.  Nothing inherently dangerous, but shunned by the public none the less.  The Browns have chosen to not to hide.  This is something I admire and wish to pursue in my own life.  I want to be real.  I want to show people what really matters to Ruby Neumann.  Even if they don't agree with my thoughts and ideologies.  I want to be okay with being different.  I want to know that who I am and what I believe is important, too. 

4. They don't want to be judged.  Who wants to be judged.  I admire people who take a stand against judgement. 

  Judgment.  This seems inevitable in most circles.  I think it is part of our human nature to define people according to our standards.  No one is immune to it, everyone does it to some degree and everyone hates it when it done to them. I guess I could offend someone by being all inclusive.  It just appears that way.  Wasn't it Paul that wrote somewhere in his letters that "We have ALL fallen short..." 

What if it works for them... even if it doesn't work for me?  No one is getting hurt, except maybe my pride. 

Tolerance may just be the solution to this disease of judgement.  I remember the stories I would listen to when I watched Miami Ink.  At first I thought people crazy for permanently attaching body art to their skin.  As I watched the show, I saw stories unfold.  People grieving, people celebrating, people expressing themselves.  It wasn't my choice of expression, celebration or way of grieving; it was theirs.  Now instead of casting judgment on someone because of their tattoos... I find out their story.  What are they trying to express?  How difficult is that once we get past the judgement factor. 

Same thing applies to the members of the Brown family.  What if they are not hurting anyone by their lifestyle?  What if their choice offends only because of a lack of tolerance and a lack of understanding?  

There you have it.  I know that a lot of people are appalled at the show.  I would like to think that if I can watch Miami Ink without getting a tattoo or even wishing for one, I can watch Sister Wives and not support the idea of polygamy.  There is much wisdom to be gained in opening up your mind to discussions and conversations that you may not agree with.  There doesn't have to be a risk to self in such an adventure.  I am influenced by many things, but in the end, it is my decision and my freedom to choose who I am and what I believe.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Transition and the Journey 7: Where does Scripture fit in?

(March 13, 2011 .... Sunday morning)

Me:  Good morning!

Myself:  Good morning!

Me:  Is "I" joining us this morning?

Myself:  Don't think so.  I think our Third Dimension hasn't awoke yet. 

Me:  Oh that feeling.  Part of me is awake, but the rest is still in bed. 

Myself:  No worries.  We can still continue the conversation from yesterday. 

Me:  Where do you want to take it today?

Myself:  I do want to clear something up that "I" failed to conclude in the conversation from yesterday.  It is not up to us to save anyone - spiritually speaking.  We must know the difference between what is our "mission" and what is the Holy Spirit's "passion". 

Me: If that is the case.  If someone else's salvation is really not our job to accomplish, then that should release the fear in people that we were talking about yesterday. 

Myself:  It should, but it doesn't. All I know if that I can't do anything to change anyone's belief.  Some days I don't even know what my job is...

"I have other sheep that are not in this flock, and I must bring them home also.  They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd."

 A Jesus quote from John 10:18... seems pretty straight forward to me. 

Me:  As for our job... maybe it has something to do with being a friend... without an agenda. 
Myself:  My thoughts exactly!!

I:  Good morning!

Me: Where were you?

I:  Eating breakfast.

Myself:  That would explain why I wasn't fully here.

Me:  We are all here now, shall we continue.

I:  I read something this morning that I would like to share.

Me: Okay, share away.

I:  I know it has been awhile since I have opened the book.  But I opened it today and found a real nifty gem of inspiration.

Myself:  Kind of like the one from John that we just talked about.

I:  Something like that.  I think I finally get the part about reading the book like a love letter instead of an owner's manual. Something I heard somewhere.  I was told for years that to live as a "Christian", one of the things you had to do was read the Bible every day.  The book was life and to have life, you had to read the book.    

Me:  Go on.

I:  I read because I had to, to do otherwise would jeopardize my spiritual health.  It was an owner's manual to operating my faith.  "The Word of God"  I was trained to profess and believe. 

Myself: Most people call the Bible the Word of God. 

I:  Most people, but not the Bible itself.  The Bible never refers to itself as the Word of God.  The
Bible only refers to Jesus as the Word of God. 

Me"In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." 
John 1 vs 1.  Most believers have that one memorized.

Myself:  They have it memorized, but do they believe it.  I think the "most" we are referring to  have replaced Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life... with the book.

I: Not far off.  That is why I was so blown away by what I read this morning.  It was right there in John 5.  I have heard it mentioned on the God Journey podcast, but this morning was the first time it really stuck out for me in the words themselves.  A genuine quote from Jesus... There is a lot there, but this is what stood out for me today.

"But I have proof about myself that is greater than that of John. The things I do, which are the things my Father gave me to do, prove that my Father sent me. And the Father himself who sent me has given proof about me."

Myself:  I like where this is going. The Father and the Son are each other's proof.  We live in a world that is trying to prove God and the existence of God.  It seems from this quote that God can prove himself to the world. 

I: My thoughts exactly! But I am not done yet.

"... You never heard his voice or seen what he looks like. His teaching does not live in you, because you don't believe in the One the Father sent."

Me: Did you know that Jesus is talking to the guys that read their scriptures every day.  Read their Bible every day.  These are Scribes and the Pharisees he is talking to.  The Scribes are they boys who rewrote and rewrote the Scriptures. 

I:  I know.  There is more...

"You carefully study the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. They do in fact tell about me, but you refuse to come to me to have life."

Myself:  Wow! That is a mouthful.

Me:  That totally sums up everything Jesus was trying to say to the Pharisees of his day -- the dudes in their long robes and tassels and bible verses tied to their heads.

I:  I think Jesus gives Scripture it's place of importance here.  It is the story, not the Life.  Jesus is the Life.  Jesus is the Word. 

Me:  Isn't that what we are struggling with right now? The place of Scripture in our life?

Myself:  I think part of the struggle in letting go of our religious expectations, is letting go of what was deemed essential by the rules of religion and finding out what IS essential to our relationship with Jesus.

Me:  The Way, The Truth and The Life.

I: Exactly.

Me: Do we know what that is yet?

Myself:  I am not sure. I think we are learning, though.

I:  We have chosen to let go of a lot.

Me:  Will we ever get it back?

Myself:  After sitting in that funeral yesterday, seeing what it looked like to be addicted to ritual,  I sure hope not.  But I really want the real thing.  I really want the beauty of the relationship with the Father, with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit that is often preached, but so seldom practiced. I want something real and I don't know what it looks like.

Me:  Thus the Journey part of this blog series.  It is a journey.  The transition is painful and joyful in the same breath. 

I:  Are we going to continue with the Evangelism Agenda conversation next time? 

Me:  Will  you be here to converse with us? 

Myself:  It was you who brought the topic up.  Wouldn't be right to do it without you. 

I:  I think I can drop in.  Let me know when you need me.

Me:  We need you.  We always need you

Myself:  You are our Third Dimension!

I:  Okay.  I am in.  I would like to talk about our personal experience with the Evangelism Agenda.  No sense pointing fingers anywhere else when we can't fess up to our own part in this epidemic. 

Me:  Til' next time, shall we?

Myself:  Til' next time.

The Transition and the Journey 6 - The Evangelism Agenda part 1

(March 12, 2011... Saturday morning)

Me: Good Morning!

Myself: And it is... I think so.  Still in bed.  I have been told the sun is shining.

Me:  So what is on the agenda today?

Myself:  I was hoping you would know that too.

Me: I do, shall we enlighten the rest? That is why we are do thing... right?

 I: Can I come too?

Myself:  Hey... our Third Dimension is joining our conversation today!

I:  What are we talking about today?

Me:  We haven't picked a topic yet. Any suggestions?

Myself:  Something juicy.. I am in for juice today.

I:  Well, I liked our discussion with Sandra last night.  Why don't we talk about agendas.  It was an interesting point we made...

Me:  About agendas in relationships...

Myself:  Especially in relating to people outside our realm of belief and faith. 

I:  Exactly!  I was trying to get the point across that in the "church"  there is so much pressure to incorporate the evangelism agenda into every relationship we have with non believers. 

Me:  Can you elaborate on "The Evangelism Agenda".   Sounds like a JW or Mormon thing.

I:  Oh, it is much more that that.  It is in every interaction a "Christian" has with someone that is not a "Christian". 

Myself:  Kind of like hidden motives. 

I:  Exactly!  There is a pressure from the people in our circles and even within ourselves to convert everyone we come in contact with.  From a very young age, most "Christian" have been programmed to accept the responsibility to convert everyone and everything they lay their eyes on. 

Me: Why is that?

I: I would hazard a guess that fear has something to do with it.  Most have been fed the fear of Hell for a long time.  "We are responsible for every living soul out there.  It is our duty to free them from the fires of Hell and escort them into the Pearly Gates of Heaven."  What a load of...

Myself:  Can we put this on hold for now... There is a truck to clean, a breakfast to eat and a funeral to attend.  And might I remind you that we are still in bed!!!

Me:  Okay.  Okay... Computer off...

( to be continued...)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Transition and the Journey 5: Giving for something other than a tax refund.

Giving... another hot potato. Me and Myself discuss the difference between what used to be the norm and the rule, and what is coming from the heart now.

Me: Good morning!

Myself: We really need to curb these early mornings.

Me: It was your idea to start working out.

Myself: Just mine? Actually, now that you mention it, don't you feel somewhat better now that we have incorporated some physical exercise into our routine?

Me: I do, I am tired, but I do feel good. We are back on a routine. How does that feel?

Myself: I don't know if it is a routine. I don't feel bound to it. I have missed the odd day to stay at home for a bit in the morning. It is just a nice space to be in. It is a place to go where I know I am contributing to my health in a small way.

Me: Maybe even a big way. Contributing... that is what we want to talk about today. Do you want to open up today's can of worms?

Myself: I can hand over thousands of dollars a year to a organization, get a tax receipt and no one tells me I am wasting, or being unwise with, my money. In fact, giving that way is not only encouraged, but mandated as a way to get the blessing of God in most churches. I don't want label all the sheep with that. Just most of the flock.

When, out of the blue, I want to give something to someone, get no tax receipt in the process, I get the following comments...

"You shouldn't have."
"What's the occasion?"
"I can pay for that."
"Why don't you put your money towards (such and such an organization)? You will get a tax receipt."

Me: The power of an income tax deduction. That seems to be the primary motivation for giving.

Myself: You aren't far off on that one. It is definitely "unorthodox" and "unwise planning", if you give without the opportunity to reap a precious tax receipt.

Me: Giving is done more through organizations and encouraged by organizations. What is the reward for you? Your income tax refund.

Myself: I liked my income tax refund. I know that since leaving organized church, it isn't as big.

Me: It is harder to give now, for the very reason you described. No one questioned us when we dropped a cheque in the offering plate. Now when we want to give, we have to defend our motivations. When church was a part of your life, did you ever drop money in the offering plate without a return address?

Myself: Not often. And when I did, it wasn't much.

Me: Do you remember your reasoning?

Myself: Why give anonymously, when you can give and get a tax receipt. The money is still going to the same place, you are just getting a bonus once a year for it.

Me: Be totally honest with this one. In all your years of dropping cheques in the offering plate, did you ever experience anything but obligation.

Myself: If you are asking me if I ever felt joyful... I don't know if I can give you a "Yes" answer. There wasn't a face in the offering plate. I was giving to a cause and I seemed satisfied that I could do that. Even when it was a missions offering, I was still giving to an organization and still expecting to reap a reward for it. I don't believe I can compare the obligation of tithes and offerings to the joy of spontaneous and anonymous giving.

Me: Do you have any stories about the spontaneous giving you have done that didn't get you a tax receipt?

Myself: I remember going to Subway for lunch when I lived in Calgary. I picked up a Sub and a fountain drink. I hadn't gone more than a block when I saw a girl sitting on the sidewalk busking. I ended up sitting beside her while she ate my Sub and drank my ice tea. I won't forget that day. I have often wondered if that is something I could do more often.

Me: What did that feel like?

Myself: Inside, it really felt good.

Me: Does anything else come to mind. Something bigger than a subway lunch?

Myself: A few things. But I haven't learned how to give without providing an excuse. I do remember my Dad giving me something once.

Me: Your Gusdorf office desk.

Myself: I won't forget what he told me. " This isn't for your birthday, it isn't for Christmas... you need this. " And he sent me to Staples to pick out an office desk and he paid for it.

Me: That seems like joyful giving.

Myself: Yes, but he had to explain himself too, or I would have resisted the gift.

Me: Why is that? Why is it that we can't graciously accept someone else's blessings.

Myself: That's because we feel like we have to earn everything we get. Not too many people are comfortable with "charity"... except the organized church. And they almost demand it.

Me: Demand seems like a harsh word.

Myself: Manipulation is a better word. Most are guilted into feeling that God won't bless them if they don't hand over their monthly dues or tithes. I am going to get nasty here.

Me: Go ahead.

Myself: Real giving isn't what you drop in the offering plate. It is what you drop on your neighbour's front steps.

Me: You will have to elaborate on that one.

Myself: I am not talking about the regular delivery of the Watchtower magazine either. I am talking about meeting the needs of your neighbour in a way that isn't motivated by what you get in return.

Me: I like how you put that.

Myself: I was down with bronchitis not that long ago. And I remember on occasion the snow on the sidewalk was blown away, so I wouldn't have to shovel. I am sure my neighbour didn't know I was sick. But I call that real giving. He saw a need and decided to do something about it. And maybe he didn't even drop anything in the offering plate that week or at all.

Me: What do you really want to get across?

Myself: I don't go to church anymore. I don't give money once a week or once a month to an offering plate anymore. But I still want to give and experience the joy of giving. I don't want to have to justify my giving with excuses or reasoning. I want to hear from God and have my husband's okay and that should be good enough. Even if it is extravagant... and even if I don't get a income tax receipt. Can I do that much?

Me: Doesn't seem like much of a request. I would hope more people get that kind of inspiration.

Myself: I am all worked up now. Can we go outside and shovel snow?

Me: We already did this morning.

Myself: I know... but let's do it again.

Me: Okay.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Transition and the Journey 4: Guilt over unorthodox communication.

Me: Work is over and we are back in the chatroom.

Myself: Not in the chatroom... in the bedroom.

Me: Okay... get technical.

Myself: Can I ask you something?

Me: Okay, but I thought I was the one conducting this interview.

Myself: I want to unload something, unleash, uncover something... but to do that would be of detriment to something I value much more. So I need to somehow be at peace with keeping it in my heart.

Me: I know what you mean. And I think I know what you are referring to. Remember we think alike. What is the question?

Myself: To guard something so sacred is difficult for me. It forces me into dishonesty. I know I have no choice in the matter, but I just want to be at peace. I know I can't do anything to change the circumstances I find myself in. I know God feels every breath I breathe ... He is not unaware of the challenges I face. I just want to know how to let the guilt go. How do I let the guilt go.

Me: Guilt is a heavy load. Heavier that those sewage pumps we sell. You can't carry the pumps without a backache, how can you expect to carry guilt without some sort of pain attached. Need I remind you... this isn't your burden to bear. You can't fix this problem . You aren't responsible.

Myself: Thank you for reminding me.

Me: That is what I am here for.

Myself: Guilt is a crazy thing. It is used by the most well intentioned individuals to motivate others into doing what they deem best.

Me: Every one has mastered the art of guilt at some point in their life... Either carrying it or giving it to someone else to carry.

Myself: There is something else I am very reluctant to share. Again... there is guilt attached. This time... I do have control. I do have a choice. The blockade this time is my feelings, my interpretations, my convictions.

Me: This one is hard to share... I will give you that. It is the feeling that "no one will understand".

Myself: Not many can. I was raised with the rule that there were certain rules in one's life of being a "Christian" that you don't mess with.

Me: But you have dropped that title. We have dropped that title. So maybe the rule doesn't apply for you.

Myself: Who will give me license on this one?

Me: Why do you need a license?

Myself: I am an approval seeker.

Me: Tell me something. Whose approval did you seek when you quit going to church?

Myself: I don't think I asked. I just did it.

Me: Tell me something. Is your life better or worse since you made that choice?

Myself: Better, in my mind. I am more flexible; Less restricted: Free. I better stop there.

Me: Where is the guilt coming from?

Myself: I am still not sure that every choice I am make is the best choice for me. There always seems to be someone older and wiser challenging my choices these days. That is why I want to hide this one.

Me: It has something to do with your communication methods with God. Right?

Myself: I guess we can say that much without ruffling feathers.

Me: Can I ask you a few questions to hopefully help you loose the guilt?

Myself: Sure.

Me: Are you still hearing from God?

Myself: In a weird way, yes I think I am. The whole hearing from God has changed dramatically, but He is still getting through. At times, the communication is weak. Other times, it is very loud and clear.

Me: Are you still talking to Him?

Myself: Yes, not every moment in my day. Some days, I feel like I am just checking in with progress reports. Some days I imagine Him in my brain, so when the words don't come out, I know the message is still getting through.

Me: So your method of communication with God is slightly unorthodox. You are communicating. That has to be what relationship is all about. Right? You have been married for almost two years. How programmed is the communication you have with your hubby?

Myself: I wouldn't call it programmed. But being that close to him, the communication is natural. Sometimes it is hard to get words out. But eventually they come out. And again I am reminded how much he loves me.

Me: There you have it. Marriage is supposed to be the picture God gave you of an intimate relationship. The kind that He wants to have with you. Communication isn't supposed to be programmed, it is supposed to flow out of the freedom of the relationship. The problem is that you and I were raised with pre-written prayers and mandatory scripture memorizing. It is difficult to talk to God and hear back from Him when you are reading someone else's prayers and treating a love letter as if it was a drama script.

Myself: Love letter. That reality is far off right now, but you aren't the first person to say that. You are right. God's love letter.

Me: Does that help?

Myself: Yeah.

Me: Guilt is a crazy thing. Right? It doesn't help the relationship out much, does it?

Myself: Nope.

Me: It's bedtime.

Myself: Okay.

The Transition and the Journey 3: Finding a friend in the journey.

Coming back to a conversation between Me and Myself. It has been a while since the two have chatted. Let us see what they are up to...

Me: Myself!... where have you been?

Myself: Not far away. I just haven't been talking much to you ... that's all.

Me: Some would call that sanity.

Myself: I have been having some interesting conversations in the last few weeks with a good friend of ours.

Me: Yeah. I know who. She's pretty convicted about her understanding of life and her beliefs.

Myself: She is. And I am proud of her for that. My beliefs and understanding of life weren't so different from hers at one time.

Me: But they are now. How do you remain such close friends after all that you have been through.

Myself: I wonder sometimes. What I really love about our friend is her openness to discuss issues or hot topics that she may be so adamantly opposed to. We don't get angry, but our conversations are very intense. We have challenged each other on many levels of thinking.

Me: That must be painful not to share something so close to your heart with her.

Myself: I don't know if it is painful. We are very different. And we shared a lot and still share a lot. I am going through a major change in my life and she seems to be the one person that I can trust with the reality of it all. She knows where I came from and I think she may feel safe knowing that I haven't abandoned my faith in God... just a part of what most people identify with faith. Something that she still holds dear.

Me: She has invited you to church on occasion, right?

Myself: Yes. I have been to her church, once. It is not that I am opposed to ever going again. I am just not interested right now.

Me: Do you find church boring?

Myself: Sometimes and some places... yes.

Me: What do you find boring?

The program. The rigidity of the service, the rules and regulations that seem to leave a big hole when it comes to relating with people.

Me: You had been struggling with that long before you stopped "going to church".

Myself: Oh yeah.

Me: Do you want to elaborate?

Myself: I am scared to.

Me: Why?

Myself: Scared of offending those who still find great purpose within the walls of their local congregation. Offending people like my family, and close friends.

Me: What do you say when people ask you "Where do you go to church?"

Myself: You know something. No one has asked that in a very long time. I haven't had to face the awkwardness of that moment yet. My family knows, but we never discuss my reasons or convictions behind my departure. My friend and my confidant is the only one that has entertained conversation with me about this on a regular basis. It seems ironic. But the one person who is helping me through this transition is someone who may never go through it herself.

Me: She is content. As is your family.

Myself: She is. But she has given me chance to voice my thoughts. That is a true friend. One that is not offended by someone's differences. And I get that in her. I have seen it with her in other situations.

Me: We have to go to work. Can we continue this later?

Myself: Okay.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

When God smiles.

Have you ever seen God smile at you?

"That is ludicrous, Ruby. God doesn't smile. I have never seen God smile. How do you know God smiles?"

Okay, humour me and read on... even though ludicrous was the first word that came to your mind.

Think of your childhood. Did you ever do anything that resulted in a smile on one of your parent's faces. Maybe remembering those moments is a challenge. Maybe I can't recall the look on my mom's face when I brought her dandylions for the kitchen table centerpiece. But I think she smiled. I see a lot of smiles on the face of many a parent when their little ones do something cute, or out of the ordinary, or just something that causes joy in the heart of that parent. Often times the child is oblivious to Mom or Dad's facial response. But it is there.

God smiles. God who created your Mom and Dad; God who forms the smiles on your parent's faces when you give then joy; God who fires up the joy in the hearts of every mother and father... that is the God who smiles.... AT YOU!!!

Now every kid tries had to please their mother and father. Some do it to a painful extreme. I am not talking about this kind of behaviour. I am talking about those moments when you aren't trying to make a smile happen. Something just comes out of who you are and what you have become. It is so natural. It is those moments that bring the genuine smile from the Mom and Dad who love you very much. And it is those moments that bring the smile from the Father who loves you even more than Mom and Dad do. It is in those moments that you sheepishly smile back and get the one thing that your Father is trying to convey to you

" I LOVE YOU!!!"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Will anyone dance at my funeral?

It is early morning. Sleep has been a stranger. Appetite an enemy. As I nurse, in vain, a bad bout of bronchitis, I am considering the end of my life and what it will be like. I started planning my funeral yesterday. That is something I figured I would never do. After all why would it matter to me? I will be gone. This inspiration came from a funeral I attended on January 21, 2011, in Abbotsford, B.C.

Most find that funerals are not something to plan until one has too. Why entertain the thought of a loved one dying (or oneself for that matter)? Yesterday, I saw a beautiful reflection of life. I heard laughter, singing and stories. I saw a collage of pictures that painted the colour of life into a room that expected tears. And I danced. There were no tears for me in that place. I felt an ache in my heart for the family that now has to walk their days without a husband, a dad, a brother, a son and a freind. But I danced.

Dance is a language that I have become very fond of. I once danced a lot more than I do now. It is a language that only emerges now on special occasions or in the privacy of my own home.

I danced at my wedding for my husband. The pictures in this post are from that very dance. The music was by John Denver and Placido Domingo - Perhaps Love.

I wondered about my own funeral and what that would be like. If I could be at my funeral what would I do. I may cry when I see those I am to leave behind. No for my own loss, but for there loss. I would share in their grief for a moment, but then I would whisper a word into the ear of the person who is sharing the music and tell him or her to play some songs so I could dance. I would dance for joy, dance for freedom from pain and the hardships of life and I would dance so that others could also share in my joy and freedom.

I asked the question... "Will anyone dance at my funeral?" Yes, I will. No one will see me there. There won't be a body to look at. But I will be there. I will be there in the memories, the stories, and the faces of the people that have loved me through this journey.

I don't know if I should plan the service down to the last detail. I know some have, who have been told there time is soon up. I would like the people that have loved me to have a place where they can process their own pain, in their own way.

I can't ask my family and freinds not to cry. That is a selfish request. I would only suggest that they allow themselves to laugh as well. I would ask my nephews to share the story of our first ski trip together. I would give permission for my sister to talk about my most embarrasing moments from childhood and adulthood. There are many. I would ask my friend, Carla to share about the crazy things we did together at bible school. I would ask my husband, if he could, to share about the love we had for each other. I would ask him to tell about our time as coworkers when we became friends, and yet it would take years before we were in each others arms for good. (He may not be there... he is convinced that he will go first. Something about not wanting to live without me. How precious is that. )

I would like to see lots of flowers... Wild flowers, tame flowers, different colors, different kinds.
There would be enough flowers at the memorial so that everyone could take one or two home. I would like the flowers to come from the wild or from someone's garden. (That would mean my memorial service would have to be during flower blooming season.) Maybe people could come that day with flowers to share with someone else. Flowers are meant to be enjoyed and shared.

Pictures. I love taking pictures. I wonder if I should put aside a collage of my favourite pictures and maybe someone can print them to share with the people. My favourite pictures are of scenery, sunsets, sunrises, flowers, animals and of my loved ones.

I have put in my will that I want to have my ashes spread, not buried. I think the most appropriate place to spread them would be in a river. I have no preferences. I love rivers. Rivers signify life for me. I spent may hours of my time at the dairy farm in Calgary, swimming with my dogs in the Elbow River. I remember building a monument of rocks in the Ghost River by King's Fold Retreat center. There are other rivers that have some significance to me. At home in the Fort St. John area, we had the Beaton River and the Peace River. When I went to New Orleans, I was able to cruise over the Mississippi River. That is the most famous river I have been on. I remember sailing with my Dad on the Red Deer river. We capsized the boat and had to swim it back to shore.

I have one more request. Don't donate any money to any illness foundations on my behalf. I am not a big supporter of those organizations. There are cures out there that will never be discovered as long as our country makes more money off of the disease.

So let me ask again... Will anyone dance at my funeral?
I hope so.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Place of Peace

I laid awake this morning with a vivid idea in my mind. My mom and my hubby have both been sleep challenged. I, on the other hand, sleep like a bear in hibernation. So I was wondering what it would take to get a person to that place of peace and rest. I had a thought of a "Happy Place". A place where one can go to in their mind, leaving the stressors of the world behind for the night.

And then I wondered about my "Happy Place". Where would I go if I wanted to mentally leave the world for a moment to find a place where my brain can rest and recharge.

I thought of The Shack (see posted picture). This little cabin is located at a Bed and Breakfast that my Hubby and I have enjoyed staying at this past year. This little cabin is old and locked up, but on the front porch is a rocking chair. This is my Place of Peace. The two times we went to Windermere, I would sneak away from our cabin, go through a walk through the wooded area to this little deserted cabin. I have sat on the front porch with no one but God and my camera. I seem to enjoy the solitude that little cabin porch brings me.

I haven't had much of a chance to be alone with God these days. My God Time has taken on a new face. I am not tracking Him down at a Sunday morning church service. I don't have that in my program agenda anymore. I haven't done much spiritual reading for a long time. There isn't much in my schedule that would indicate a good and healthy spiritual life.


BUT... God hasn't left me alone. I have done everything in my power to rid myself of the religious practices that I once equated with a relationship with my Creator. God wasn't bound by my religious agenda and I don't even believe that he needed the agenda to meet with me.

This "Place of Peace" is where I go when I want to leave everything behind. And God meets me there. The real cabin... I only see that place and sit in that rocking chair one or two times a year. But I close my eyes and see myself once again sitting on a wooden rocker in the seclusion of the wooded paradise... and I once again am comforted with the understanding that I am not alone or abandoned.